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Collegiate Athletes Take Stand Against NCAA With #AllPlayersUnited

Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee (2) works against North Carolina during the first half of an NCAA football game in Atlanta last Saturday. Lee  played with 'APU' for All Players United written on his wristband to protest the NCAA's treatment of athletes.

If you spent this past Saturday watching college football, you may have noticed certain players touting the letters "APU" on their wristbands.

Those three letters signified the beginning of the All Players United movement, which could grow into a major headache for the National Collegiate Athletic Association over the coming weeks and months.

The campaign, which was organized by the National College Players Association (NCPA), is a student-led push for major NCAA reform.  The NCPA helped organize the movement through a series of conference calls with collegiate athletes over the past few months, according to ESPN's Tom Farrey.

The nascent movement won't have direct implications for middle and high school student-athletes just yet. But if the campaign succeeds in convincing the NCAA to reform certain policies and procedures, any youths considering continuing their athletic careers past high school should pay heed.

According to the NCPA's website, the All Players United campaign goals are as follows:

  • Show support for the players who joined concussion lawsuits against the NCAA;
  • Force the NCAA into using a portion of new television revenues on guaranteed scholarship renewals for permanently injured players; full-cost-of-attendance scholarships for all student-athletes; and the establishment of an "educational lockbox (trust fund)" to help boost graduation rates among athletes;
  • Support student-athletes involved in the O'Bannon vs. NCAA, EA Sports lawsuit over the use of player likenesses; and
  • "Standing behind individual players being harmed by NCAA rules."

"I think a significant part of this is players using their bodies to call attention to some of the pitfalls they want to overcome, in terms of things that could affect them their entire lives," said NCPA president Ramogi Huma to Patrick Hruby of SportsonEarth.com. "Brain trauma. Whether or not they graduate. These are major issues for them."

The NCPA is encouraging collegiate athletes to demonstrate their support to All Players United by using the hashtags #APU and #AllPlayersUnited on social-media sites. Twenty-eight college football players donned the APU initials on their equipment in the first week of the movement, according to CBSsports.com's Dennis Dodd, which ruffled the feathers of at least one coach.

Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter was one of those 28 football players who wore "APU" on his equipment (he had the letters on both wristbands) this past weekend. His coach, Pat Fitzgerald, told Dodd that he was "disappointed" Colter didn't vet his participation through team channels.

Below, Colter tells reporters why he's participating and why he didn't run it by his coach:

It'll be worth watching to see just how far this movement spreads over the coming weeks. According to ESPN's Tom Farrey, football players from at least one or two other teams will soon join the APU movement.

Photo: Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee (2) works against North Carolina during the first half of an NCAA football game in Atlanta last Saturday. Lee played with "APU" for All Players United written on his wristband to protest the NCAA's treatment of athletes. (Mike Stewart/AP)

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